Smart home speakers are not as popular as mobile phones, but in my opinion, it actually should be.
You see, companies are slowly rolling out smart home devices so that your life will be so much easier given the convenience of having them.
That being said, I am going to be talking about the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo speakers because they are the ones that are at the forefront when it comes to smart home speakers. Which of these should you choose? Read on to find out!
For those of you who do not know, Google Nest Audio is actually the Google Home speakers that were released just about a year ago. It seems that Google wanted to use a new moniker to denote that this particular thing can ‘nest’ your other smart home devices.
The Amazon Echo, on the other hand, refers to the medium-sized Bluetooth speaker that the largest online retailer sells. The company is set to release a new version of this device soon, so it would be interesting to see how well it performs.
Even though the new version of the Amazon Echo hasn’t arrived at our doorstep yet for an official review, this is not to say that we can somehow speculate what it can offer, especially considering that the company has provided us with some really good information about it.
With all of those out of the way, let’s talk more about the design first. The Google Nest Audio takes on a more cylindrical approach in that the speaker itself has a higher height than the Amazon Echo.
For that reason, you are getting a 75mm woofer and a single 19mm tweeter. Google touts the Google Nest Audio as a better sound solution compared to its original Google Home Speaker because of the changes.
On the other hand, the Amazon Echo, in my opinion, has better sound quality. That is thanks to its two 20mm tweeters and a huge 76.2mm woofer. Its design is more spherical but I am pleased (and surprised) that Amazon was able to include two tweeters on its Bluetooth speaker implementation.
At the base of the Amazon Echo is a blue light ring that changes the way it emits light depending on the current usage.
Both of these Bluetooth speakers are offered in various colors so you have different options to choose from.
If you look at the design of both speakers, you could make a case that the Amazon Echo wins this round when it comes to pure sound quality. Its two tweeters compared to the single tweeter on the Google Nest Audio, provides it with a much better chance of delivering mid-high sound frequencies.
This is not to discount the fact that Google has some tricks up its sleeves because its AI technology is smart enough to adjust the sound quality on the fly when needed.
Both of the speakers have an adaptive sound feature wherein if it detects that the ambient noise is loud enough, it increases the volume of whatever content you are consuming at that moment to compensate. This is using both of the speakers’ microphones. The volume should normalize to the last known level after it detects that the ambient sound has quieted down.
Of course, this is only my opinion after looking at the spec sheet because I will have to get my hands on these things before I can give my honest opinion. But, my initial assessment would be that the Amazon Echo delivers better sound compared to the Google Nest Audio.
To be able to provide you with ‘smart’ features, both the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo are equipped with processors that can handle just that.
The Google Nest Audio comes with the company’s TeraOPS A53 processor which is a quad-core chip that boasts of better performance compared to the company’s previous Bluetooth speakers.
On the other hand, Amazon’s own speaker is equipped with the AZ1 Neural Edge processor that, according to the company, should be more responsive to voice commands compared to previous versions.
It is hard to say who wins this round. You see, Amazon has Zigbee hub integration which means that your connected smart home devices have better compatibility with the said speaker because of this.
However, we all know that Google’s AI technology is so advanced (and even more accurate) than Alexa, so it could potentially provide you with better features overall compared to Amazon’s Bluetooth speaker.
Of course, I cannot truly say which one wins this round until I get to review these wireless audio solutions. In that case, stay tuned for more.
The Google Nest Audio will be available on October 5, while the Amazon Echo will not be released until later this month (October 22). That being said, both of these speakers will retail for $99.99, so stay tuned for our official product reviews to help you know which one you should ultimately choose for yourself.
Apple iPad 8th Generation Review- An Iterative Upgrade
When it comes to ease of use and convenience, people like getting Apple’s products because of its more streamlined approach to everything. Sure, there is a lot to tinker on Android but that is also precisely the reason why the user experience, at least for the layman, is not as great.
There is this saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, although I would have liked to say that here, I just don’t think that that approach applies here.
You see, the design of the 8th generation iPad is identical to its predecessor. As in everything about its aesthetics are similar which means that if you want to imagine what the new iPad looks like, all you have to do is look at the 7th gen variant.
Like all things, it can be a good thing or a bad thing. It is a good thing because that familiar design should feel right at home, especially for people that already own an iPad. It is bad because, in this day and age, more and more mobile devices have slimmer bezels and the new iPad still has those atrociously huge ones.
Don’t get me wrong, there are practical uses to having large bezels as it allows you to hold the tablet better when using it in landscape mode, but if you are watching online content, you can’t help but be bothered by the huge sides.
There are two versions of the 8th generation iPad and that is one with WiFi only and the other one having LTE. Its dimensions are 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29. The only difference between the WiFi and the LTE versions is that the latter is a bit heavier at 495 grams compared to the 490 grams of the former.
Thankfully, Apple didn’t remove the headphone jack but if you are going to utilize its built-in speakers, you are better off using a good Bluetooth speaker instead.
The 8th generation iPad has a 10.2-inch Retina Display with a resolution of 2160 x 1620 and 264 pixels per inch or PPI. It has a good peak brightness at 500 nits, though you can still experience some problems when you are outside and the sun is shining brightly.
You can utilize the Apple Pencil on this device and it is also quite accurate as well (just keep in mind that it is sold separately).
What I love about iPads, in general, is that their displays provide you with crisp and clear details. Whether you are working on your documents or perhaps watching your favorite movies and TV shows, they do not disappoint.
Specs and Performance
- CPU: A12 Bionic
- GPU: Apple GPU (4-core graphics)
- RAM: 3GB
- Storage: 32GB/128GB
- Display: 10.2-inch Retina IPS LCD Display, 2160 x 1620, 4:3 aspect ratio, 500 nits brightness, 264 PPI
- OS: iPadOS 14
- Cameras: 8-megapixel (back), 1.2-megapixel (front)
- Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 AC, Bluetooth 4.2
- Battery: 32.4 Wh
So, if the 8th generation iPad has an identical design to its predecessor, what has changed here? Well, I am glad you asked. The only notable difference here is that the new model comes with the A12 Bionic chip and that’s pretty much it.
While you could be unhappy with the change, the new CPU actually beats its predecessor by a lot. By using Geekbench 5, single-core scores are about 60% higher than the 7th gen iPad and about 100% better in multi-core tasks than the previous model.
Granted that the said benchmark is relatively old, you couldn’t argue that the new processor is indeed way better than its predecessor.
Even when you are just using the tablet the way it should be used, you can really tell the difference. This is more evident if you are going to play some games.
Now, do not worry about the 3GB of RAM because the iOS ecosystem is quite streamlined and efficient that you normally wouldn’t need more than that.
It should also go without saying that the included cameras are just there for show and they do not really do anything special, so I don’t think that covering them is warranted here.
Sure, the new 8th generation iPad doesn’t bring a lot to the table, but its new processor is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. Does that justify buying the new one? Probably not, especially if you already own the 7th generation model.
However, if you own an older iPad and you want better performance across the board, then you could probably spend your money to get one.
My gripe here is that there are only two storage options to choose from. You can get the 32GB variant for only $329 but in this day and age, 32GB is not a lot of storage space.
If you want more storage, you will need to spend an additional $100 premium just to get the 128GB model. In fact, I would go on to say that you should be buying this particular model compared to the 32GB variant. I just don’t like that the company is gouging you another $100 ($429 in total) just to get one.
The 8th generation iPad is disappointing in a lot of ways and its only redeeming quality is its new processor. It would have been nice if there is a redesign or that the lightning cable is changed to USB-C, but there is just not a lot of things to talk about here.
Therefore, I should say that the 8th generation iPad is just an iterative upgrade. Whether you want to buy it or not is entirely up to you.
Amazon Echo Studio Review- The Bigger ‘Echo’ Speaker That Competes
Amazon, the biggest online retailer in the world, has created its own AI implementation in the form of the Amazon Alexa.
It is actually quite polished and it can go against Apple’s Siri and Google’s own AI. That being said, the company has released some ‘Echo’ speakers that not only act as Bluetooth audio devices but as smart devices as well.
Today, I am going to be reviewing the Amazon Echo Studio. Does this thing really have what it takes to compete with the others?
One of the biggest criticisms of Amazon’s Echo speakers of the past is that although its smart features are okay, their sound output leaves much to be desired. As a way of addressing the issue, Amazon has built the Echo Studio.
The Amazon Echo Studio is pretty big. It is 8 inches in height and 7 inches wide so this is indeed a pretty hefty audio solution. In fact, I would go on to say that this is one of the biggest Bluetooth speakers on the market.
Its design is pretty much akin to the Amazon Echo speakers of old. You get a fabric mesh design that encapsulates the speaker itself with all of its button controls situated at the top of the device.
You also get a blue ring light that will pretty much add to the aesthetic appeal of the unit. The microphone is also placed at the top and it is always on ‘listening mode’ so that whenever you want to interact with Alexa, it can do so at a moment’s notice.
Although you cannot see it, the Amazon Echo Studio is actually powered by a subwoofer, a tweeter, and four mid-range speakers that are mounted at the top and the sides. This thing is a beast as it can output 330 watts of power when needed, which is ample enough even for home cinema setups.
The Amazon Echo Studio is quite a powerful Bluetooth speaker. No matter what genre of content you’d like to consume, this thing can output the necessary sound to make your viewing experience more immersive.
I am usually keen on an audio solution’s performance when it comes to playing music and I am happy with the Echo Studio’s prowess.
Although it favors the lower frequencies more than the mids and the highs, it does so without drowning the latter two, which is something that you normally do not see on large Bluetooth speakers.
An interesting feature that the Amazon Echo Studio has is its support for 3D Audio. You will need to sign in to your Amazon Music HD account before you can get a hold of this feature and it is the only platform that supports the Echo Studio’s 3D Audio. Amazon did mention that it will hand out support for other streaming platforms at a later date though.
So, how is the speaker’s performance on that front? Well, I am not really sure what to think about it as I have mixed feelings about the said feature.
3D audio is meant to provide a more immersive listening experience but I can hardly tell the difference between traditional Hi-Res audio and this one.
I guess you could say that for tracks that have a more melodic tone that you can discern a 3D audio-enabled track from a regular track, but other than that, non-audiophiles can hardly tell the difference.
To be fair, the said feature is still not polished yet, so expect it to improve in the years to come.
The Amazon Echo Studio also has seamless integration with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, though it does support all other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu as well.
You are also given the option to link up another Amazon Echo Studio speaker so that you can have them work in tandem to provide you with even better sound. I do not have a second unit though, so I cannot really tell anything about this. But, the feature is there if you want to get another unit.
Aside from 3D audio, the Echo Studio also acts as a control hub for your smart devices. You can use Alexa to turn off your lights at a specific time of the night or you can have it play your favorite track if you want. The possibilities are endless.
Do keep in mind that while it should support most of the smart home devices that you can buy on the market, there are some products that do not play ball.
For instance, some smart locks can only be supported using Apple’s Siri, so you cannot control that using this device.
You can also link up a second Echo Studio speaker if you have one and you can use both of them to provide you with an even more powerful and more immersive listening experience.
You can control the speaker’s features by manually tapping on the buttons at the top of the device or by downloading its companion app.
Amazon has finally solved the issue of the Amazon Echo speakers of the past by giving you a relatively large speaker that can do a lot of things.
The Amazon Echo Studio has support for 3D audio, but you will need to have an Amazon Music HD account to get a hold of the said feature.
You can also use the speaker to control your smart home devices which is pretty nice. The microphone is always on listening mode so that you can call Alexa’s attention at a moment’s notice.
Normally, I would expect a product like this to cost more than $300, but the Amazon Echo Studio actually costs just $199. I guess getting another one is not too far out of the equation, eh?
iOS 14 is Finally Here- Everything You Need to Know
The iOS 14 beta was first introduced back in June 2020 but on September 16, Apple has released the final version of the ever-popular mobile operating system that is placed at the heart of your Apple iPhone.
Just like Android 11, iOS 14 can be construed as an incremental upgrade but there are some noteworthy improvements that you will surely love.
Today, I am going to go over everything you need to know about Apple’s new mobile operating system and find out what new features you might like using immediately.
When you swipe right on the homescreen a couple of times, you will be presented with a new feature called the App Library. Think of this as Apple’s implementation of an app drawer (that is a mainstay in Android Devices).
All of the applications that are found in the App Library are neatly categorized for your convenience. Here, you can find all of your folders and some app folder suggestions as well.
Apple understands that iPhone homescreens can get really cluttered, and so, the company has provided users with the ability to stack the same type of apps into a single folder.
Furthermore, depending on the time of day, the operating system can suggest certain apps that you might like to use at that moment.
For example, the OS might suggest that you use a music streaming app if you want to jog a couple of laps while listening to your favorite music.
Apple was heavily criticized for not giving users the freedom to add widgets to the homescreen. Well, that has changed in iOS 14.
Now, users have the ability to add any widgets that they like on the homescreen. Not only that but these widgets provide useful information right off the bat so that you can simply glance at the particular widget to find out the current weather conditions, for instance.
You can add as many widgets as you want and you can also resize them a little bit, though its implementation is not as extensive as the Android ecosystem.
People often use Siri as a means of enabling almost hands-free access to their iPhones. Well, in iOS 14, Siri is vastly improved- both in its AI technology and the things that it can do.
You can make use of Siri to craft messages for you, call specific people, translate foreign languages (more on this later), block possible incoming calls, and so much more.
In addition to what I’ve said, Siri also doesn’t take up the entire screen anymore. Instead, you can look for Siri in a small globe icon that is usually situated at the bottom of the display.
This feature was first implemented on iPads, but you can also enjoy picture-in-picture mode on your iPhone as well.
This allows you to play videos on the background while you are face timing someone which is pretty awesome.
Think of App Clips as Apple’s implementation of Android’s Instant Apps. Basically, you get a hold of some specific app features without actually having to download and install the said app.
For example, you can purchase a coffee from Starbucks just by scanning a particular code. This alleviates the need for downloading the company’s specific app just for the same job.
Not a lot of applications support this as of yet but expect that more and more of them will be supported in the future.
7.iMessage Has New Features
Apple’s Messages app has plenty of new features that you will really love using frequently. First is the ability to pin any important messages within a conversation. You can pin messages just by swiping a particular part of the conversation to the right. The pinned comment can be placed on your homescreen for convenience.
Aside from that, you now have the ability to reply to a specific message within the conversation via inline replies.
Have you ever used Facebook Messenger and you want to mute notifications from certain group chats but still want to get notified if your name is mentioned at any point in the conversation?
Well, that specific feature is also now available on the Messages app as well. This is a great feature if you want to mute notifications from your group chats but you still want to get notified if you’re ever given a special mention.
To mention any person within the chat group, all you have to do is use the ‘@’ symbol and a list of names should pop up. Just tap on the person that you want to shoutout and the app should do the rest.
Lastly, if photos are uploaded to the group chat, you can add an image overlay on top of it or you can add some cute emojis to make it more fun and lively.
Memojis are nothing new, but the iOS 14 introduces some new ones, including new headwear, hairstyles, stickers, and so much more.
Moreover, Apple has done a pretty good job of making Memojis even more expressive than ever before!
WatchOS 7 was released in the same window as iOS 14 and because of that, you can expect some integrations with Apple Smartwatches as well.
The new health app not only allows you to use your Apple Watch’s sleep tracking feature, but it also records some important data that you can use to relay to your physician to give you a general idea of your overall health.
10.Improved Weather App
The default weather app in iOS 14 also gets some major improvements, including the ability to give you notifications and more information about upcoming severe weather systems, improved forecast accuracy, precipitation readings, and so much more.
You can use your Apple Watch to help provide you with clear routes if you intend to use a bike to go to work. Although this doesn’t work in all cities all over the world, Apple intends to add support for more cities sometime in the near future.
12.Digital Car Keys
This unique feature not only unlocks your car doors but it can also be used as a means of starting your car’s engine as well.
Not all new cars are supported, however, so if you want to use this feature, make sure that you have a compatible vehicle.
In addition, when the u1 chip is released next year, you can also unlock your car doors without having the phone with you (but you will need an Apple Watch that is tethered to your phone for this to work).
You will find a new Translate app when you install the new update. The beauty of this application is that you can use its extensive features even when you are not connected to your home network.
This means that if you’re talking to your friend that doesn’t speak the local language, you can use the app to have things translated for you and you can also use its conversations feature so that the translated text can be spoken out loud for your friend to hear (and understand).
Furthermore, you can use your Apple Watch to do the same thing as well since it, too, has its own translate app.
Every time you fire up an application that sends or requires user data, that application must provide you with a heads up if they’re going to do those things. You are given the power to either provide access to that application or deny permissions.
In addition to that, you will see a colored dot that indicates whether your camera or your microphone is in use (green for the camera and orange for the microphone, respectively).
15.Set Default Apps
Apple has finally given you the freedom to choose your own default apps. At the time of writing, you can only set your default web browser and mail application, but the company is set to add support for more applications moving forward.
If you are using the Airpods Pro and you are also using other Bluetooth devices as well, now you can switch between the said devices seamlessly thanks to an automatic switching ability.
Airpods Pro users can also enjoy the improved spatial audio feature which essentially provides you with an even more immersive listening experience.
If you’ve been using the same password in almost all of your accounts using an iPhone, iOS 14 introduces a new password monitoring system that will alert you to change passwords whenever it detects any data breach that could compromise your data.
The best thing that you can do is to use a password manager like LastPass so that you will only have to remember a single master password for all of your passwords.
How to Get the New Update?
So, which devices are supported? Well, any iPhone that is above the iPhone 6 is supported. This means that from the iPhone 6s to the newest Apple iPhone SE should receive a notification to download the latest update.
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